Stephen Downes points to this review by Sara Worley in NotreDame Philosophical Review of the book ‘Mental Causation’ by Anthony Dardis, and he (Stephen) concludes with this:
“The main takeaway? This nice neat picture of ‘A causes B’ is deeply mistaken.”
Now I’m no philosopher, and I haven’t read the book, but I have to agree with Stephen on this. It has long seemed to me that even in the purely physical world the whole idea of cause and effect is just baby-talk. i.e. superstitious nonsense that has no real meaning beyond the question “What is a minimal subset of actual antecedents of B from which the eventual occurrence of B could have been deduced? (indefinite article intended since solution not necessarily unique).”
Once one accepts the nonuniqueness of “cause” and identifies it basically with “explanation”, the idea of mental events “causing” physical ones ceases to be problematic.
Regardless of whether or not a mental event has and/or is equivalent to a physical manifestation, the fact that, if I want to raise my hand, then, in the absence of disability, constraint, or other countervailing wishes, my hand will rise, means that my wish (in the stated context) can be said to have caused the movement(*). Using a purely physical explanation in terms of interacting neurons provides another cause, as does also perhaps a deeper analysis of my mental state immediately prior to the onset of the wish.
(*)even though, apparently, according to some studies, my awareness of the wish may actually follow the initiation of the motion!
(Such studies are often considered paradoxical, but perhaps they would seem less so if we consider that our awareness of a thought or impulse is not actually the thought itself but just a memory of it.)